Fuel System Fluids - On The Move - MMF Tech | Fluid Transfer Options
Consider These Fluid Transfer Options For Your Next Ford Project
From the November, 2009 issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords
By Wayne Cook
Photography by Courtesy of Manufacturers, Wayne Cook
Tech | MMF Hose/Fluid Line Replacement
For classic Ford projects...
For classic Ford projects many vendors now offer complete brake line kits for cars that have been out of production even for 40-plus years. These kits come with lines cut and shaped to the correct length and have the double flare and fittings already installed. This kit from Classic Tube is for classic Mustangs. The main line is shown with a 180-degree shipping bend. This kit is OE steel and we found it for $109.95. Believe it or not, even Fox Mustang brake lines are being reproduced now too, great for V-8 conversions or to repair damage from previous owners.
When we stop to think about it there are a lot of different types of fluid transfer processes that keep our Ford vehicles moving. Reliable function of these processes is imperative and any malfunction, however brief in any of them, can be catastrophic. We don't need to elaborate about what's at stake if fluid transfer for your brakes is interrupted. Almost as important are the engine oil, engine coolant, and automatic transmission fluid. Any prolonged interruption in these systems will fail the affected component.
Problems with the fuel system of course will stop the engine, but the chance of a leak is of far more concern because of the possibility of fire. Besides a careful routing plan that keeps any fluid transfer lines away from heat or moving parts, it's also important to understand that the requirements for lines and other components differ according to application. For example it would be a mistake to use low-pressure welded fuel line as brake line. Even though the system might be made to work, the fuel line won't have the same bursting pressure threshold as will purpose-designed seamless brake line, and could fail suddenly, resulting in loss of braking power.
Before this 8-inch axle was...
Before this 8-inch axle was sent out for rebuilding, a trial fit showed how accurately the new lines are formed and how well they will fit. Prebent lines have become a real time saver in our hobby, but often a custom bent and flared line will be required due to aftermarket suspension or brakes, but fear not, it's not that hard to do. For those of us making a custom line, it's imperative to acquire the correct type of brake line material and also to make sure the line ends are flared in the correct manner. Any deviation from correct procedure on the flaring of line ends could result in a leak and complete braking system failure. Don't make any substitutions in the selection of materials and seamless tubing is always a must.
The good news is that there are more choices than ever before when planning fluid transfer aspects of your next project. Many of the components you'll be after are now specifically made for your car. For example, if you're restoring a '68 Mustang it's possible to acquire a complete set of brake lines pre-bent specifically for your job in a choice of OE finish or stainless steel. It's also possible to find new transmission lines for popular conversions or upgrades. If you've decided to install an AOD transmission into your first generation Mustang a complete set of transmission cooling lines is now available pre-bent to the custom application and ready to bolt in. The advantages available in modern materials make other fluid transfer upgrades possible. Many classic Ford enthusiasts we know have replaced their OE-style rubber flex hoses on their brake systems with lines having a braided steel jacket. The result is less line expansion under pressure and a firmer brake pedal with more solid response.
Let's break down our discussion into some of the major categories present on any Ford vehicle. We'll then discuss options that you may wish to pursue during the fluid transfer phase of your next Ford vehicle project.
For those of you determined...
For those of you determined to make your own custom lines, this brake line tubing is specially made with seamless walls and is the correct raw stock for a custom brake line job. The handheld tubing bender will be handy for making the lines conform to the required contours of the installation. Measure and cut all lines with a little extra length to allow for the flaring process at the ends. Don't forget to install the fittings onto the tubing before creating the flare. This 20-foot coil of brake line is from Inline Tube. This line is OE steel and costs $25. Stainless steel costs extra at $59.
One of the most popular areas to address on many Ford projects, especially those of a vintage nature, is brakes. Besides eliminating drum brakes in favor of disc, most brake system refurbishment projects include replacement of rusted or otherwise damaged brake line. Often custom brakes lines will need to be fabricated as well.
Manual transmissions usually don't have external coolers but automatic transmissions almost always do. Whether the transmission fluid is routed to a heat exchanger inside the vehicle radiator or to an independent cooler, not to mention the line pressure and heat from automatic transmissions, demands a failure proof system. Besides the potential for a huge mess from a line or connection failure, the transmission fluid also poses the danger of fire if sprayed onto a hot exhaust manifold. The procedure for creating your own transmission cooling lines will be the same as shown for the brake line flaring formation but using larger diameter line. As is the case for brake lines, pre-bent transmission cooling lines are very likely available for your application.
There are several types of...
There are several types of tube flaring kits available. This set comes from Great Neck. This kit will handle the whole procedure resulting in a perfect 45-degree flare, which is the industry standard. Now let's go over the process in a few short steps.
We're working with 3/16-inch...
We're working with 3/16-inch brake line, which is the most common size on Fords. First, insert the line into the correct opening in the bar. It should protrude about one half the diameter of the tubing as shown. You can also use the tool's die as a measuring device. Be sure the brake line tubing is cut square by using a tubing cutter and not a cut off wheel or hacksaw.
With the die in the tube end,...
With the die in the tube end, install the screw cone as shown. Next drive the cone home until the die rests against the tool completely. (Apparently someone has lost the screw cone's handle, please don't use a screwdriver for this folks!-Ed.)
Fuel system requirements are very strict because of the danger of fire. Often times when a different carburetor is installed, the factory hard line is replaced with flexible fuel hose. While this can be acceptable if the length is kept in check, a safer and more sanitary fuel line routing/connection is desirable. For fuel system requirements it's hard to beat AN fittings, and honestly AN lines and fittings can be used in just about any fluid application, although fuel systems are the most popular. There are even quick-disconnect style AN fittings for easy vehicle servicing.
|AN Size||Tube Outside diameter|
Another An Application
On most of our Fords, the engine oiling system is completely internal to the engine and doesn't require our attention. However, once we get into high-performance applications an external engine oil cooler is often desirable.
Another critical area on your Ford involving fluid transfer is the engine cooling system. Here, unimpeded and uninterrupted fluid circulation is imperative. While OE-style rubber hoses are usually adequate, many enthusiasts we know choose to add braided steel jacketed hoses to their engine cooling system. While cooling systems operate at relatively low pressure of between 5 and 18 psi, these hoses have a greater resistance to heat and bursting and also add a custom touch to the vehicle engine compartment.
Loosen and remove the screw...
Loosen and remove the screw cone and die. The result for the first half of the procedure is a single flare and should look perfectly round and symmetrical as shown.
Next insert the 3/16-inch...
Next insert the 3/16-inch die into the tubing end. You may need to clean up the end of the line with a fine file to be sure the die will fit into the opening. Be certain that no metal shavings or material remain in the tube.
Next, reinstall the screw...
Next, reinstall the screw cone over the end of the brake line tubing that has been single flared, without the die, and once again drive the screw cone to the bottom of its travel.
Hard lines should never be...
Hard lines should never be connected to moving suspension or brake parts, as the movement will fatigue the brake line. A flexible hose must be used between the hard line and caliper. Many disc brake kits come with rubber flex hoses. While adequate, many performance oriented drivers prefer steel jacketed lines. Classic Tube's Stop Flex braided steel brake hose has a 5,000 psi rating, while regular rubber hoses usually rate around 1,500 psi. The braided stainless jacket prevents volumetric expansion, a major culprit in a spongy brake pedal. The very high burst pressure is a safety plus and it produces a firmer and more responsive brake pedal feel. A kit for a '65 Mustang consisting of three hoses costs $119.85.
Here's the completed double...
Here's the completed double flare on our 3/16 brake line. The bevel in the cone imparts a perfect 45-degree angle to the flare. The Great Neck flaring bar has openings and dies for steel lines in the diameters of 5/8-, 1/2-, 3/8-, 5/16-, 1/4-, and 3/16-inch. Flaring brake line tubing takes some practice, so practice on some scrap steel tubing before using the actual material going onto the car. If you need a more elaborate flaring tool for stainless steel line, EFI fittings, or modern metric bubble flares, check out the TLF04 hydraulic flair tool from Inline Tube.
These new transmission lines...
These new transmission lines are offered by Classic Tube. They are a bolt-in solution to the problem of new transmission lines when an AOD is installed in a classic Mustang. They're a great solution to the problem and typical of the advances being made in the area of fluid transfer technology for our beloved classic Fords. We found a set in stainless for about $85.
For any kind of high-performance...
For any kind of high-performance use, an external automatic trans-mission cooler is a very good idea. The stock heat exchanger for the transmission is often limited in its ability to cool the transmission on a hot day because the extra heat load is placed on the radiator. Having an external cooler will contribute greatly to the service life of your automatic transmission. This unit from Fluidyne would be a perfect choice for a high-performance Ford automobile application.
This photo shows the transmission...
This photo shows the transmission cooler in place in the slipstream, done in conjunction with a custom radiator conversion. Generally, such a cooler installation is spliced into the existing transmission cooling lines downstream of the factory heat exchanger located inside the radiator. We've seen both sanitary hard line installations as well as those done with rubber hose. When using rubber hose, however, be sure you are buying hose rated for transmission fluid, as regular fuel or coolant hose will swell and get soft when used for oil lines. We also recommend stainless hose clamps (non worm drive) that will not cut into the hose when tightened.
Mechanical fuel pumps for...
Mechanical fuel pumps for carbureted engines such as these Holley examples generate the appropriate fuel pressure of between 5 and 10 psi. As you can see, these pumps are ready to install with AN-type fittings.
On a carbureted engine the...
On a carbureted engine the fuel pressure may be 5-7 psi. Even with this relatively low pressure there are some things to keep in mind. Instead of using regular rubber fuel hose to install that new carburetor, a billet fuel log should be installed for a solid and leak-proof installation. BG Fuel Systems' billet aluminum fuel logs are made of aircraft-grade material. It offers spring-controlled fuel pressure at idle. They come equipped with triple O-ring seals and have provision for a fuel pressure gauge. The BG fuel logs range in price from $159 to $224.99.
This photo shows our carb...
This photo shows our carb set up for the BG fuel log. You can see that the result will be a rigid and solid connection for fuel at the carburetor. The AN-type connections are a far more desirable set up than a flexible rubber line with worm drive hose clamps.
On an EFI system the pressures...
On an EFI system the pressures generated are far higher than on a carbureted set up, in the 50 psi range. Hence, the use of the correct lines is even more important on an EFI system because the higher fuel pressure makes any rupture in the system far more dangerous. This is why factory EFI systems include an inertia switch to shut off the electric fuel pump in the event of a collision, something that should be included on any EFI conversion. EFI fuel pumps such as this Professional Products Power Flow EFI Blue Fuel Pump will deliver fuel at a rate of 58-gallons (220-liters) per hour. The innovative extruded aluminum heat sink helps keep the fuel cool. The pump is PN 70151 and the price $105. The late-model preformed lines, with their special connectors, are no good for a custom EFI installation on a classic Ford. To create an EFI fuel system that's up to the pressure requirements, a top-quality flexible line (or custom-formed hard line) and AN fittings can be used.
Earl's double ended hose-end...
Earl's double ended hose-end wrenches will be needed to assemble the AN connections to our fittings correctly and without damage. They include a size for every AN fitting.
Here, the special AN wrenches...
Here, the special AN wrenches are used to secure the fitting to the hose ends. The wrenches are made of billet aluminum so as not to scratch or otherwise damage the AN fittings. Assembling AN lines is not a black art, but it does take some practice to get it right.
These -6 AN hose-end fittings...
These -6 AN hose-end fittings from Earl's Performance have a 90-degreee bend and are the correct size for the 3/8-inch fuel line used on our project. The AN stands for Army Navy and these fittings were developed by the military to make very reliable connections in both flexible hosing and in rigid tubing. AN sizes range from -2 to -32. Every step equates to the outside diameter of the tubing in increments of 1/16-inch. Hence, a -4 AN size would be equal to 1/4-inch OD tube (4 x 1/16 = 1/4). The AN system does not specify the inside diameter, as tubing wall thicknesses vary. AN fittings are a flared fitting and use a 37-degree flare to form a metal-metal seal. Don't try to use an AN fitting with a standard 45-degree SAE flare fitting or line, as leaks will be your only result. The following chart should help you determine which AN size you need for your application.
Here a fuel line attachment...
Here a fuel line attachment is again made using the AN wrenches. Forget any hose clamps or barbed nipples. Every fitting in the fuel system will be AN, thus eliminating any weak points in the system.
As seen here, an adapter is...
As seen here, an adapter is used between the oil filter and the cylinder block to carry the oil to the external cooler. This Boss 429 external engine oil cooler setup is shown with factory lines, but on a custom build the bulletproof aspect of AN connections and braided steel lines will give you peace of mind when running an external engine oil cooler.
There are several different...
There are several different types of external engine oil coolers available. This new unit is PN 29307 and comes from Performance Rod & Custom. With dual electric fan assist this is a great solution for an external cooler that can't be situated in the slipstream. Any of these external coolers require a failure-proof connection to the engine and you can see that this unit is equipped to accept AN connection fittings.
For most classic applications,...
For most classic applications, OE-type coolant hoses are adequate. These exact reproduction hoses even have the original style clamps.
Those of us after a custom...
Those of us after a custom touch can opt for flexible radiator hoses with metal coil or braided steel jackets. This Form-A-Flex hose from Earl's is for cooling system upper or lower hose applications. Matching heater hoses can be used as well.
There is no doubt that braided...
There is no doubt that braided steel jacketing on the upper radiator hose is a major custom touch. Matching braided equipment is also available for the heater hoses as well. Good-looking braided steel radiator hoses like these are available from Spectre Performance. They cost about $29.95 each.
This is a 20-foot roll of...
This is a 20-foot roll of Russell Performance Pro Classic black high-pressure hose. It's rated to operate safely up to 350 psi and has a 1,400-psi burst rating. Since our fuel pressure will be in the 45-55 psi range, we have a huge safety margin.